Econet to launch digital biometric detection in KYC system to counter cyber security risks

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By Alois Vinga

LEADING telecommunications services provider, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Limited (EWZL) is set to launch digital biometric detection systems in a move which will further strengthen Know Your Client (KYC) requirements in the era of rising cyber security risks.

Several criminals plying the cyberspace have taken advantage of weaker KYC systems exposing members of the public to huge losses since anyone with Personal Identity Numbers (PIN) or bank cards can access digital accounts.

EWZL company secretary, Charles Banda this week revealed that with progress made towards being a fully-fledged digital service provider (DSP), details such as photographs, a record of their voice or fingerprints will be part and parcel of KYC.

“We plan to modernize the current core network to one that is virtualized, in order to increase our ability to efficiently allocate network resources. Modernization of the current know-your-client (KYC) system is also underway in line with our DSP strategy.

“This will include biometric detection as well as digital identification, leading to better protection for our customers against growing cyber-security risks,” he said.

He however said despite a surging appetite for the company’s products, foreign currency shortages remain a stumbling block.

Overall, the local telecommunications industry has been struggling to meet the capacity and coverage demands of consumers as investment is long overdue with capacity enhancements and routine maintenance remaining severely constrained by the lack of access to foreign currency to service our foreign network suppliers.

“Despite these challenges, for the 9-month period ended 30 November 2022, voice and data volumes increased by 32% and 46%, respectively, relative to the same period in the previous year. Due to the unreliable national power grid, the business continued to invest in alternative power solutions in a bid to ensure network availability,” said Banda.

He bemoaned the fact that green energy solutions, such as solar and battery storage, require significant foreign currency investment prompting the pace of investment to  remain below desired levels, thereby impacting service quality.

In terms of financial performance, inflation adjusted revenue for the 9-months period grew by 9% compared to the same period last year largely driven by voice and data volumes, which were however weighed down by tariffs which were below inflation.

“Whilst the Company has started to see growth in the proportion of USD denominated sales to local customers, we have observed that other consumer facing businesses are now selling more than 60% of their products and services in US dollars. If this trend continues, we expect it to ease our challenges in terms of paying key suppliers,” added Banda.